I didn’t want to get sucked in, but I am.
This wasn’t going to be about getting invested in story-line any more, just playing a few hours a day when I could and making the most of what can be easily soloed. The idea of a place like Suramar for me was slightly unnerving: I didn’t believe the design team could come up with a decent enough story to maintain my interest. I was wrong. The voice acting helps enormously, plus the backdrop of a completely self-contained other city. So complete is it that there’s a Zoo and Vinyards plus overtones into the real world of oppression and dictatorship that makes me uncomfortable. Singling out those who were ‘different’ and sending them away. Deciding who was worthy of feeding or not.
The end game has changed people, and only for the better.
Suramar’s complexity and difficulty only serves to make this change all the more significant. It’s a constant fight to stay alive, balancing fighting and sneaking. The canals are your saving grace, kids, plus Feign Death… what would I do without the hunter staples? I’d have a far larger repair bill, for starters. I ploughed through a large portion of the narrative this morning, just to make sure I wasn’t imagining the compelling nature of the questing. Nope, it really is brilliant. From the lovely tour guide to the corner spiv, from mother and child reunions to bad guys meeting their end? There’s nothing to hate at all in this. The ultimate irony, of course, is that this is how you collect Artefact power. There are no armour rewards, in fact save the odd toy there’s nothing at all to show for your hard work, except that elusive increase in AP until you’re into six figures.
Without any real ceremony, I unlocked the 100,000 AP threshold. All those World Quests have finally added up too, but to be honest they’re not nearly as much fun as ‘doing’ story. The major saving grace of the ‘Daily’ of course is the time it takes: to really get lost in the Suramar ‘narrative’ requires a solid couple of hours. Four World Quests is about thirty minutes on my watch, and really not that taxing, even in Suramar itself. However, I do take it easy on my own, without husband’s tank to stick all the mobs in front of. What makes this zone special however is the number of additional buffs you can pick up to use within it: the ‘generate Ancient Mana’ one being particularly useful. Manoeuvring myself into the patches is reminiscent of the buff you used to get from your Garrison’s Mage Tower: in fact, if you think about it, without that ‘feature’ from Warlords, so much of this Expansion wouldn’t be nearly as awesome as it undoubtedly is.
I’m now halfway into Honored with Suramar, which means in a couple of days (if I keep picking up the World Quests) I’ll be able to unlock the two dungeons associated with the zone. That’s probably the smartest move in all of this in terms of generating longevity in content: ‘gating’ your features not behind what seems like a tortuous or mind-numbing ‘grind’ as was the case back in Pandaria, but presenting it as a well-earned and anticipated reward in a sweeping tale of oppression and redemption. In that regard, I doubt end-game will ever be the same again. If you yearn for Vanilla-style content, you’d better hope Tom Chilton’s left Warcraft’s design team to develop a legitimate 2004 Warcraft reboot, because I doubt we’ll ever go back to that style of content ever again. That’s no bad thing either.
I have no desire to go back to the past. This present is pretty damn awesome.
Can I log in and play now, please?